‘It all adds up’: UK campaign to cut energy use launches this weekend

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A long-awaited public information campaign to encourage UK households to cut their energy use and save money this winter is to launch with the strapline “It all adds up.”

The government has told energy suppliers the communications drive will begin online this Saturday and will be followed by a TV advert after Christmas, the Guardian can reveal.

It will include advice to reduce boiler flow temperatures, put in draught proofing and turn down radiators in unused rooms.

Officials told suppliers that a dedicated website on gov.uk will launch on Saturday to complement the existing Help for Households site. The campaign will run across radio, print media, in bus and railways stations and social media, with a 30-second TV advert due to launch in “late December”.

In an email to suppliers, officials wrote: “As you’ll be aware, we are set to launch our UK-wide public awareness campaign on encouraging people to reduce their energy use and save money on their bills.”

Ministers have been urged since the summer to launch a drive to advise households on the best ways to reduce their energy consumption.

European governments have been asking companies and citizens to cut their usage for months as the fallout from the invasion of Ukraine leaves countries scrambling to replace Russian gas.

However, the debate over whether to launch a public information campaign in Britain has split the Conservative party.

The Guardian revealed in October that Liz Truss’s government was ready to launch a formal campaign but decided against it. It later emerged that Jacob Rees-Mogg, then business secretary, had signed off a “light touch” £15m campaign to save consumers £300 a year on energy bills but the move was blocked by Truss, who opposed a “nanny state” intervention.

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Rishi Sunak last month signed off an £18m energy saving campaign alongside £1bn of funding for household energy efficiency measures.

“The campaign will offer practical tips and advice to demonstrate how consumers can make significant savings on their bills with simple actions that all add up, while giving vulnerable groups the right information for doing this without harming their health,” officials wrote.

They said tips will include advising the public to reduce their boiler flow temperature from 75C to 60C, turning down radiators in rooms not being used and “reducing heating loss from your property, such as draught proofing windows and doors”.

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Industry insiders said the government had debated which measures to push and how to ensure advice did not endanger lives.

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One industry chief executive said: “These are the right messages but this is launching far later than it needed to be. In Europe, the public have been told what to do for months.”

The launch comes as freezing weather grips the country and tests the resolve of households who have resisted putting on the heating in the face of high energy bills. “We have seen a 30% increase in consumption on last year in the last few days,” said the executive.

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Energy firms have already seen a reduction in energy consumption compared with last year, although that has been cushioned by the relatively mild start to winter.

The government has stepped in to reduce the pressure of rising energy bills through its energy price guarantee, which caps typical annual household bills at £2,500 but does not prevent households using more energy than average surpassing that figure.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment.

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